Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers 12/21/21: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers Matchup Preview (12/21/21)

The Phoenix Suns (24-5) travel to face the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers (16-15) on Tuesday night. The two teams are trending in opposite directions health-wise, as the Suns starting lineup recently saw Devin Booker return to action. Although Chris Paul hurt his left hand on Sunday, he is expected to be fine and play. The red-hot Suns blew out the Charlotte Hornets 137-106 on Sunday and seek to add to their 3 game winning streak. The Suns lineup is one of the deepest in the NBA, as they have 8 players averaging over 8 PPG (Kaminsky will not play, however, due to injury). They are 6th in the NBA in Offensive Rating (110.6) and 3rd in Defensive Rating (103.5). Their balance can be attributed to their excellent three-point shooting, versatile defense, and coaching. 

Meanwhile, the Lakers must play their second game in a row without Anthony Davis. In addition to Davis being out, the Lakers are missing Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and Austin Reaves to COVID protocols or injury. Malik Monk is a game-time decision for the Lakers. Russell Westbrook and LeBron James must carry the offensive load for the Lakers. The X factors for this game are Carmelo Anthony and Isaiah Thomas due to their individual scoring prowess. Those two must be volume scorers or the Lakers will simply not be able to keep up with the firepower the Suns possess. If the Lakers cannot win the starting lineup minutes, the Suns will expand their lead using their depth. It will take the Lakers playing at peak form and vintage LeBron to beat the Suns.

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

Look for the Lakers to keep pace with the Suns early on, until the Suns depth and fire power eventually overwhelms the Lakers. The Lakers don’t have sufficient defenders to throw at Paul, Booker or Ayton. On the other side, the Suns have a multitude of defenders in Paul, Bridges, Crowder and Ayton that can slow down the Lakers. Bridges, in particular, is playing on an All-Defensive level. The Suns (3rd) and Lakers (1st) both play at an extremely fast pace, and these two teams combine for 222.4 PPG. Although Westbrook plays the game at top-speed, it has not necessarily been beneficial to the veteran-heavy Lakers. Last time these two teams met on October 22nd, the Suns won 115-105. However, the Lakers had Anthony Davis and most of their bench intact. I am going with the Suns moneyline in this one. The Suns are too experienced, too efficient, and too deep for me to pick the injury-riddled Lakers. I would expect the Suns to comfortably win this game without having to win it in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter.

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TV Schedule

Date: 12/21/21
Time: 10:00 PM ET
Arena: Staples Center – Los Angeles, LA
Channel: TNT

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Suns vs Lakers Betting Picks Video

Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Jae Crowder
C: Deandre Ayton

Phoenix Suns Analysis

The Suns are the clear favorites heading into the game based off of their strong start to the season. They are 4th in the NBA in 3PT% (36.8%) and have three players shooting over 40% from 3 (Booker, Bridges, Johnson). With Anthony Davis injured, look for the Chris Paul-Ayton connection to thrive. The Lakers will be forced to have DeAndre Jordan guard Ayton in the paint. Jordan played 21 minutes in a Lakers loss against the Bulls after only averaging 13 MPG previously.

Chris Paul – the only player clearing 10 APG in the NBA –  and Deandre Ayton have established a superb pick and roll connection that Jordan is just not mobile enough to guard. The Lakers do not have the size to match up against 6’11” Deandre Ayton and 7’0” JaVale McGee. If the Lakers send help to the paint, the Suns will have Booker, Bridges, and Crowder on the perimeter ready for an open three point shot. The Suns are elite at all three sections of the court (paint, midrange, three) and will get open looks thanks to Chris Paul. Look for the Suns to exploit this suspect Lakers defense and pull away towards a convincing victory.

Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Wayne Ellington
PF: LeBron James
C: DeAndre Jordan

Los Angeles Lakers Analysis

The Lakers are devoid of size in this matchup, as DeAndre Jordan is the only true center they have available. With that in mind, the Lakers will need to shoot the ball well from deep in order to compete with the efficient points the Suns will score in the paint. Carmelo Anthony has been a huge boost to the Lakers bench this season by averaging 13.5 PPG on 40.4 3PT%, but the Lakers will need around 20 points from him in order to compete with the dynamic Suns. Along with Anthony, the Lakers will need Wayne Ellington to hit his threes. Ellington has been a huge boost to the Lakers spacing. With a lot of playmakers that are not great shooters – Westbrook, James, Rondo – the Lakers must have players step up and make shots. Although the offense is worrisome heading into this matchup, the defense is the biggest fear for the Lakers. They do not have an elite perimeter defender, although LeBron has exceeded expectations at 36 years old and Trevor Ariza has been solid throughout his long career.

It will be hard to stop the Suns from scoring while they have new addition Isaiah Thomas on the court. Although he can still clearly score, he is a huge defensive liability. Thomas only played three games last year, and this Suns-Lakers game will be his second of the year. He is 32 years old and listed at 5’9”. With the Suns loving the Pick and Roll, they will exploit Thomas and try to force him to switch onto Ayton. The Lakers can’t hide Thomas off of Paul either because then he would be on star scorer Devin Booker. With Jordan and Thomas expected to see big minutes, the Lakers will struggle to defend and eventually the game will get out of hand in the Suns favor. 

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers Daily Fantasy Picks

With DeAndre Jordan having to play big minutes, expect Deandre Ayton to have a big scoring night. When Jordan needs to rest, the only other player the Lakers could realistically throw at Ayton is LeBron. In addition to Ayton having a big night, expect Chris Paul to clear 10 assists again. Paul will shred the Lakers in the pick and roll and find his shooters open if the Lakers pack the paint. Because the Suns could pull away early, the Suns bench could get more minutes than usual. Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson, Landry Shamet, and JaVale McGee would be receiving more minutes in this case. For the Lakers, LeBron and Westbrook will be expected to carry the offense.

Even if they won’t have the most efficient night against these versatile Suns defenders, expect those two to fill up the box score. Carmelo Anthony and Isaiah Thomas will get more opportunities to score for the Lakers and could be great value picks. Overall, I would say the players with the biggest boost by playing this particular opponent are Deandre Ayton and Carmelo Anthony. However, the main four of LeBron, Westbrook, Paul, and Booker will still perform to their lofty standards. 

I am currently a junior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in Psychology. I have spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group. My primary interests reside in NBA, NFL, and College Football.

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